There's nothing like a good row

Some of the arguments we've been having online and introducing our new blogger

It’s always compelling watching other people having a bit of a spat and I’d like to flag up two examples from newstatesman.com this week.

One was the argument sparked by Tahmima Anam’s article on Bangladesh. Some attacked her for belittling her country when she now lives in the UK, others jumped in to defend her right to speak out.

One critic wrote: "Since she appears so enamoured of the comforts of Britain it is better you stay there. Fighting for your country is hard work but soiling those precious manicured hands does not seem to appeal to Tahmima."

I say!

Fortunately plenty of other comments defended Tahmima’s right to hold an opinion. For example: "I find some of the comments here quite appalling … as soon as anyone writes anything against the politicians, the author is automatically branded as unpatriotic."

Elsewhere, Bristol student union president Ben Ullman’s view Campus Radicals that higher education shouldn’t be free provoked quite a bit of comment. People posted from universities up and down the country – some of the students clearly putting quite a lot of time into expressing their arguments. This is a continuing debate and it’s interesting to hear the current generation of students talking about these issues.

Anyone out there in favour of raising the upper rate of taxation, scrapping the national curriculum, bringing back O-levels, reintroducing grants and getting rid of the poll tax?

Can’t pay, won’t pay! Oh, how it takes me back.

Moving swiftly on, next week we’re launching a new blog. Remember the story a few days back about an American family securing one of two rarely available cottages on Fair Isle? Well, the people who got the other one were a young Scottish couple. The male half, Malachy Tallach, is a journalist and singer song-writer …

He emailed me the other day and suggested he write us a column. Good idea, I said rubbing my hands and thinking of some of the scenes in the Wickerman.

Well, he’s sent in his first entry and it’s a great read - the story of remote place with a population of around 70, many of them crofters.

So look out for it next week and learn what Malachy’s life on this Scottish island is like. Though so far, alas, it doesn't seem to have much in common with the celebrated movie...

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.
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New Digital Editor: Serena Kutchinsky

The New Statesman appoints Serena Kutchinsky as Digital Editor.

Serena Kutchinsky is to join the New Statesman as digital editor in September. She will lead the expansion of the New Statesman across a variety of digital platforms.

Serena has over a decade of experience working in digital media and is currently the digital editor of Newsweek Europe. Since she joined the title, traffic to the website has increased by almost 250 per cent. Previously, Serena was the digital editor of Prospect magazine and also the assistant digital editor of the Sunday Times - part of the team which launched the Sunday Times website and tablet editions.

Jason Cowley, New Statesman editor, said: “Serena joins us at a great time for the New Statesman, and, building on the excellent work of recent years, she has just the skills and experience we need to help lead the next stage of our expansion as a print-digital hybrid.”

Serena Kutchinsky said: “I am delighted to be joining the New Statesman team and to have the opportunity to drive forward its digital strategy. The website is already established as the home of free-thinking journalism online in the UK and I look forward to leading our expansion and growing the global readership of this historic title.

In June, the New Statesman website recorded record traffic figures when more than four million unique users read more than 27 million pages. The circulation of the weekly magazine is growing steadily and now stands at 33,400, the highest it has been since the early 1980s.